The Apogee Duet for iPad and Mac is the middle child in their line of iOS compatible audio interfaces. Similar to the Apogee ONE, it’s a two channel audio interface with a large multifunction button and a sleek design. Unlike the ONE, it has an OLED display for even more visual feedback and control, and a single USB MIDI connection. While it’s not strictly a portable device, you could easily throw it into a backpack, you’ll just need an outlet to actually turn it on. But the biggest difference is the audio quality. It’s hard to believe, but the Duet’s audio quality is even better than the ONE, which is exactly what justifies the price point of $649 on this audio interface.
Included with the Apogee Duet are the input adapter, USB cable, Lightning cable, 30-pin cable, and AC power adapter. Setup is basically the same as the Apogee ONE for iPad and Mac; you’ll want to plug everything in and download the Maestro app, which gives you direct control over your Apogee hardware for all sorts of settings. It can apply software updates as well. While it’s not strictly required for use on an iOS device, you’ll want the Maestro app because it really gives you control that you won’t have access to inside of other apps.
Just like the Apogee ONE, the Duet has two input channels. You can use them simultaneously if you’re so inclined. But given the superior audio quality of the Duet, it’s very possible you’ll be happy enough just using a single input at a time.
The Duet has truly professional line levels. This means that if you had other professional gear and you plugged the Duet in between two of those components, your levels wouldn’t drop. While I don’t have experience with truly professional recording equipment, I can say I’ve never heard more accurate audio reproduction than what the Duet provided during testing. It’s quite refreshing to have your ears opened to how good your audio can sound going through an interface of such high quality.
That superior audio quality is thanks to best-in-class and cutting-edge Apogee technology. The Duet’s AD/DA converters are designed to deliver the purest recording possible with efficient circuitry and state-of-the-art components. The mic preamps offer seamless click-free transitions as the gain increases and decreases throughout the 0-75dB range. To top off all of that superb hardware, the Duet also features Soft Limit, which prevents digital clipping by instantaneously rounding off transient peaks before they are even converted to a digital signal. This makes the apparent audio level several decibels higher and gives and almost analog warmth to your sound.
Other than the superior audio quality, one of the things that sets the Duet apart from the ONE is a high resolution OLED display. This display gives you a much more detailed view of levels. It also makes it easier to make accurate adjustments via the multifunction knob without looking at the device the Duet is connected to. Ultimately, you don’t need this display, but it’s certainly nice to have.
The Duet also has more outputs than the ONE. It has two balanced line outs plus a stereo headphone out, which can be controlled and routed independently. Another big differences in the USB MIDI connection. If you have a USB MIDI controller, the Duet can make use of it while doing everything else it does at the same time. This makes the Duet a truly all-in-one music creation solution.
Unfortunately, the Duet suffers from the same problem I had with the Apogee ONE. To save space on the device, there is a cable that breaks out a single connector into four connections: two combination connections for instrument and mic input, and two speaker outputs. While this isn’t necessarily a functionality problem on its own, it does introduce a few potential irritants. I could not get this device to stay put on my desk because of how the heavy instrument cables tend to tug on this cable. The Duet itself just isn’t heavy enough to resist the pull of this breakout cable combined with an instrument cable hanging off the side of a desk. I want to make it clear that this doesn’t affect sound quality, though it might affect your mood. The Duet could benefit greatly from some of the design elements of its bigger brother, the Quartet (review to come soon). Built-in audio connections are the way to go if you ask me.
If this one thing bothers you like it does me, Apogee does have a breakout box accessory which gives you much sturdier connections built into an aluminum box. It also gives you two XLR outputs.
Overall, the Apogee Duet for iPad and Mac is an amazing audio interface that turns your iPad into a superb audio workstation. It’s kind of crazy that with just two devices (neither of which has to be a regular computer) you can have professional quality audio recordings. The breakout cable isn’t my favorite method of making audio connections, but the audio quality of the Duet more than makes up for this one complaint. And that’s really why you’d be interested in the Duet in the first place. It’s an amazingly high quality all-in-one audio interface with a sleek design that works with your iPad, iPhone, or Mac.
The only question left is whether that’s worth $649 to you. If audio quality is that important to you, then you won’t be disappointed with the Duet.
Provides: Audio interface for iPad and Mac
Minimum Requirements: iPad or Macintosh